The quality of Quebec educational system is a hot topic today after the announcement of Minister Bernard Drainville’s education plan, right after the International Education Day at the end of January. We need to consider the quality of our schools, and in particular their acoustics.
Good acoustics design is an often overlooked but crucial element in creating a high quality learning environment in our schools. Poor acoustics, high background noise levels, and unwanted sound events affect the quality of communication between students and teachers and therefore the quality of education.
A7hz acoustics and vibration engineering team has worked on more than 25 school projects over the past 2 years including:
– the design team of the Louis-Philippe Paré school in Chateauguay with companies Jodoin Lamarre Pratte architectes and Marosi Troy Architectes Inc.
– the design team of Paul Chagnon school in Longeuil with companies Jodoin Lamarre Pratte architectes and Smith Vigeant Architectes,
– the supervisor’s team to accompany the SQI on 4 new high schools in Saint Zotique, Vaudreuil, Terrebonne and Saint Jérôme.
The LEED for School criteria are generally the objectives retained.
First of all, the control of reverberation time in the teaching spaces is essential to ensure optimal acoustics in our schools. Reverberation time is the length of time a sound emitted in a room persists when it is stopped. But in addition to this indicator, it is important to optimize the location of the acoustic materials chosen to further increase intelligibility between speakers and listeners. This location depends directly on the use of the room.
It is also crucial to keep background noise levels as low as possible by controlling the noise induced by mechanical systems. This is often overlooked and is always problematic. Noise from HVAC systems could mask some of the teaching. This is especially true at the back of the classroom where the sound level of the speaker’s voice is lower (attenuation with distance). Thus, students at the back of the classroom who often have more difficulties are at a disadvantage because they will have more difficulty understanding the teaching.
Adapted sound insulation between spaces is also recommended to limit potential distractions.
A7hz acoustics specialists are here to guide education building project teams towards simple and effective solutions from the very beginning of school projects.